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Mackintosh, Charles Rennie Glasgow style
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Cabbages in an Orchard

From The Magazine, April 1894. The long text by Mackintosh which accompanies this watercolour in The Magazine (reproduced in full in Billcliffe's catalogue) suggests that he had already encountered public hostility to his work, possibly even from fellow students, on the grounds of incomprehensibility.

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie

The Tree of Personal Effort

From The Magazine, Spring 1896. Inscribed: The Tree of Personal Effort, The Sun of Indifference, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, January 1895.' The exact meaning of the symbolism of this work, and its companion, 'The Tree of Influence' has eluded all commentators on Mackintosh's early water-colours. The obvious source of the symbolism is nature, and Mackintosh here reaches his most extreme distortion of organic forms.' (Roger Billcliffe).

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie

Autumn

Bound in volume, The Magazine, November 1894. 'Behind a stylised tree stands another of Mackintosh's mysterious female figures, but this is the first one to appear that is not meticulously drawn. Only the head is shown in any detail, and the shape of the body is hidden by a voluminous cloak from which not even its limbs appear. This figure was to be repeated many times, becoming more and more stereotyped until, with the banners designed for the Turin Exhibition in 1902, the head is the only recognisably human part of a figure with a twelve-foot long, pear shaped torso. In 1895-96, Mackintosh was to develop this drawing into a poster for the Scottish Musical Review (Howarth, p1, 9F). The same cloaked figure appears with similar formal emblems at the ends of the branches of the bush.' (Roger Billcliffe).

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie

The Descent of Night

Appears in The Magazine, April 1894. 'The central figure is based upon that used in the 1893 design for a diploma for the GSA and like that in 'The Harvest Moon', has wings like an angel. Here, however, she appears naked and her outstretched arms and hair merge and are transformed into barren tree-like forms. These descend to the horizon behind which the sun is gradually disappearing under the feet of the winged figure. From the bottom of the picture, and directly beneath the sun, rises a flight of menacing birds. They are presumably nocturnal birds of prey and they seem to be flying directly towards the viewers. This is one of Mackintosh's earliest uses of this strange bird, which was to become more stylised and to appear in many different forms, in several media in his oeuvre.' (Roger Billcliffe).

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie

The Magazine

There are 4 known surviving volumes: The Magazine 1893, The Magazine April 1894, The Magazine November 1894, The Magazine 1896.

The Magazine was a publication of original writings and designs by students from the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, Scotland, and their friends. Appearing in 4 volumes between November 1893 and Spring 1896, The Magazine contains text from contributors handwritten by Lucy Raeburn, editor, accompanied by original illustrations. These volumes are the only known copies of The Magazine. In addition to rare, early watercolours and designs by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the volumes contain early designs by Frances MacDonald and Margaret MacDonald, at a stage in their development which has been labelled 'Spook School', and two sets of photographs by James Craig Annan, when he was beginning to establish a reputation at home and abroad. Among other contributors were Janet Aitken, Katherine Cameron, Agnes Raeburn and Jessie Keppie, all of whom enjoyed lengthy careers in art and design.

The Magazine is similar to an album amicorum such as those which originated in the middle of the 16th century among German university students, who collected autographs of their friends and notable persons, sometimes adding coats of arms and illustrations. The Magazine resembled the album amicorum in that contributions were by a close group of students and their friends and is all the more interesting because the illustrations were produced by young people who had a common social background, were trained at the same school, and subjected to the same artistic influences. The contributors were closely linked, some by family, some by romantic attachments and had close social connections. Other contributors include C Kelpie, John M Wilson, Jane Keppie, and Ethel M Goodrich. Source: Jude Burkhauser, Glasgow Girls: women in art and design (Edinburgh : Canongate, 1990) The Magazine has been digitised in its entirety, and is available to search and browse at www.gsathemagazine.net/

Raeburn, Lucy

Mackintosh Art, Design and Architecture Collection

  • MC
  • Collection
  • c1891-2018

Items in The Glasgow School of Art's Mackintosh collection include: furniture, watercolours, drawings, architectural drawings, design drawings, sketchbooks, metalwork and photographs.

Mackintosh studied evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art between 1883-1894, winning numerous student prizes and competitions including the prestigious Alexander Thomson Travelling Studentship in 1890. Mackintosh and his contemporaries also produced four volumes of a publication called "The Magazine" during their time as students, which included examples of their writing and artworks. GSA Archives and Collections hold Mackintosh's Italian Sketchbook, as well as all four volumes of The Magazine, all of which can be browsed on our catalogue.

The majority of Mackintosh's three-dimensional work was created with the help of a small number of patrons within a short period of intense activity between 1896 and 1910. Francis Newbery was headmaster of The Glasgow School of Art during this time and was supportive of Mackintosh's ultimately successful bid to design a new art school building in 1896 - his most prestigious undertaking. For Miss Kate Cranston he designed a series of Glasgow tearoom interiors and for the businessmen William Davidson and Walter Blackie, he was commissioned to design large private houses, 'Windyhill' in Kilmacolm and 'The Hill House' in Helensburgh. In Europe, the originality of Mackintosh's style was quickly appreciated and in 1900 he was invited to participate at the 8th Vienna Secession.

In 1902 Mackintosh was invited to participate at the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative Art in Turin and later at exhibitions in Moscow and Berlin. Despite this success Mackintosh's work met with considerable indifference at home. Few private clients were sufficiently sympathetic to want his 'total design' of house and interior and he was incapable of compromise.

By 1914 Mackintosh had despaired of ever receiving true recognition in Glasgow and together with his wife Margaret Macdonald he moved, temporarily, to Walberswick on the Suffolk Coastline (in England), where he painted many fine flower studies in watercolour. In 1915 the Mackintoshes settled in London and for the next few years Mackintosh attempted to resume practice as an architect and designer. The designs he produced at this time for textiles, for the 'Dug-out' Tea Room in Glasgow and the dramatic interiors for 78 Derngate in Northampton, England show him working in a bold new style of decoration, using primary colours and geometric motifs.

In 1923 the Mackintoshes left London for the South of France, finally living in Port Vendres where Mackintosh gave up all thoughts of architecture and design and devoted himself entirely to painting landscapes. He died in London, of cancer, on 10 December 1928.

The majority of Mackintosh's design work, (including furniture and metalwork), architectural drawings, textile designs and watercolours are in the possession of three public collections - The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow Museums, and the Hunterian Art Gallery at the University of Glasgow - although significant (individual) pieces can be found in museums across the UK and Europe, North America and Japan. However, some of Mackintosh's most important, symbolist watercolours from the early to mid-1890s are to be found in the collection of The Glasgow School of Art.

The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections hold a large number of items by Mackintosh, giving us one of the largest collections of his work held in public ownership. We continue to investigate new routes of engagement for the collection. For example, our Mac(k)cessibility project in conjunction with GSA’s School of Simulation and Visualisation explores digital display and loans of our Mackintosh furniture. Find out more about the Mac(k)cessibility project here.

Mackintosh, Charles Rennie

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